Injecting Drama: Floyd Mayweather Jr, Lidocaine, Xylocaine, his hands and supposed doping

It’s no secret that Floyd Mayweather Jr and talk of P.E.D use in boxing often go hand in hand.

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Mayweather and those around him pretty much introduced the term “Olympic style testing” into the boxing jargon during the messy negotiations between him and Manny Pacquiao for their much delayed and still uncertain superfight. Some associated with Mayweather accused Pacquiao of abusing P.E.D’s, Mayweather demanded more stringent testing than the athletic commissions require and for whatever reason (and it wasn’t entirely clear what it was) Pacquiao turned it down. The entire thing was somewhat of a farce and none of the parties come out of it smelling of roses.

But as well as accusing others of P.E.D abuse, there have been a number of rumours about Mayweather and his own conduct. Thomas Hauser, one of the few journalists to really put any effort into looking at P.E.D abuse in boxing, has written about the whispers that Mayweather Jr himself failed three tests that were hushed up. But that’s not the rumour I want to focus on.

The one I wish to focus on has been around for a while, at least since Mayweather faced Castillo for the first time. In the build up to that bout the commentators mention how Mayweather had suffered from hand issues and had injected himself to deal with them. From there the rumour has grown, passed on through message boards and badly sourced articles to reach a current form that essentially goes like this:

Floyd Mayweather injects his hands with a dubious substance during training and for bouts. This substance is banned in most states and the reason Mayweather only boxes in Nevada is that it is the only state to allow it/he has a special deal with them which means he ignores it. Mayweather is thus is essence a drug cheat.

Let’s see if there’s any truth to this rumour…

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Paulie Malignaggi, boxing media and what we should be looking for…

I’m a little late to post this, but it is certainly still worth mentioning.

A little while back Paulie Malignaggi was doing the usual prefight hype for his upcoming “Battle of Brooklyn” match against Zab Judah. He starts off with a few anecdotes about his time in boxing (including mentioning how Al Haymon’s team called to sign him… one of the reasons he’s the manliest man in boxing) and his relationship with Zab, notably recalling a time when as an amateur Judah was actually helping to corner him during a tournament. It’s very friendly, very light, quite entertaining and fairly standard.

On a side note though, especially in the wake of the crude promotion for Malignaggi vs Broner, it is nice to see Malignaggi not have to go the lowest-common denominator route with his pre-fight hype. Trash talk is all well and good but the stuff prior to Malignaggi/Broner was crude, banal and painted neither of them in a positive light. Malignaggi’s a good enough speaker that he doesn’t need to descend to that level to get people interested in a bout.

But he then goes on to talk about the media reaction to his last bout and notably his post-fight comments about Al Haymon affiliated fighters (as Broner is) getting the nod in narrow contests. He especially objected to the way that some in the media tried to present the fact that one of the judges gave the bout to him in the same context as CJ Ross’s ridiculous card in the Mayweather/Saul Alvarez bout. Personally, I did have Broner winning, albeit somewhat narrowly but I can certainly understand why a judge would favour Paulie; it was very much a bout where Paulie’s higher workrate went against Broner’s more precise punches.

Paulie then used this to launch into a wider attack on the boxing media. He focuses on what he sees as the media’s obsession with the “nerdy” side of boxing writing; working out a pound for pound top ten, “analysing” fantasy fights and establishing who the lineal champions of a division are for example while seemingly refusing to really engage with some of the bigger issues confronting boxing. He uses himself as an example, pointing out how “rants and raves” about things when really, it should be the media driving the crusade on them. He finishes by mentioning that while the media will often criticise a boxer who is ahead in a bout “playing it safe” and coasting the last few rounds to minimise risk at the cost of excitement, the media won’t take the risk of really investigating major stories if the risk is they lose media credentials and press access.

It’s a powerful rant and one Paulie clearly feels strongly about.

And I agree with him.

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Thomas Hauser, Al Haymon and the elephant in the ring…

You know, sometimes I hate seeing that Thomas Hauser has published another article.

That’s not because I don’t enjoy them. It’s not because they’re poorly researched. It’s not because they’re badly written. None of the above apply; Hauser is a fantastic writer.

It’s because Thomas Hauser asks the questions that need to be asked which lead to the answers that we don’t necessarily want to hear.

One of his main… I guess investigations is the correct term to use… over recent years has been the use of performance enhancing drugs in boxing and he has written confidently, authoritatively and intelligently on the subject. His latest excellent article can be found here (credit thesweetscience.com), with an extract below. It’s a brilliant but somewhat unsettling read but it is something every boxing fan should read and take notice of.

Thus, it’s worth focusing on Edwin Rodriguez and the laudable commitment to 24-7-365 VADA testing that he recently made.

In August of this year, Rodriguez signed with manager Al Haymon. At least three of Haymon’s fghters (Andre Berto, Antonio Tarver, and J’Leon Love) have tested positive for PEDs in the past.

Another Haymon fighter (Peter Quillin) was enrolled in a USADA testing program prior to his June 2, 2012, fight against Winky Wright. Then, after blood and urine samples were taken from both fighters, Wright was told that the testing had been abandoned and the samples were destroyed.

Haymon also represents Adrien Broner.

Broner, Antonio DeMarco, Golden Boy (Broner’s promoter), and the United States Anti-Doping Agency signed a contract for USADA testing prior to the November 17, 2012, Broner-DeMarco fight. But according to DeMarco, he wasn’t tested by USADA for that bout, nor was Broner.

Then, on June 22, 2013, Broner fought Paulie Malignaggi.

“I wanted VADA testing,” Malignaggi recalls. “And I was told, ‘No, we won’t do VADA. If you insist on VADA, there won’t be a fight.’ Finally, I said, ‘F— it. I’m getting seven figures. I’ll go ahead and fight.’ Would I have been more confident that Broner was clean if there had been VADA testing? Absolutely.”

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Boxing: Doped, Drugged and Duped

So in a previous post I mentioned I would do a wider article on doping in boxing.

It hasn’t been a great few months for sports and integrity as a whole. Lance Armstrong’s admission to systematic doping following years of accusations and denials, the Australian report revealing the endemic use of performance enhancing drugs (P.E.Ds) and an Europol investigation into matchfixing have all left a rather bitter taste in the mouth of a sports fan. Even sports as seemingly genteel as golf and cricket have found their involved in drugs scandals. And as always boxing, the black sheep of the mainstream sport, lingers in the shadows, implicated.

There are two reasons an individual can fail a drugs test. The previously mentioned PEDs, a list of substances where the explicit purpose is to make the user a better sportsman and the authorities have banned their use. There are also recreational drug test failures; marijuana, cocaine and all the other litany of narcotics. I don’t intend to focus on these other than to say that they are illegal and listed as prohibited substances. Whatever your personal opinions on the use of those substances those are the rules; the rules that boxers signed up for when they agreed to be licensed. If one breaks the rules on has to expect to be held accountable.

I would also stress I am no expert on steroids, PEDs, blood doping or any of the other forms of cheating of that type. I do not intend… and am not qualified to… discuss the exact benefits and side effects of using such substances. I take the general… and I believe uncontroversial… view that boxers who use these substances do so because they give them an advantage compared to not using them. They (and I speak in general terms) allow the user to train harder, get better results and recover faster.

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